The Cedars Social has lots of potential, being a short Uber ride from the Omni Dallas and the rest of downtown. Sure, the area is not exactly froufrou, but after a blitz of nearby apartment construction, its catchment clientele is increasing by orders of magnitude. Bang on cue, so to speak, the restaurant has installed a new executive chef, Justin Box. His compelling résumé includes Restaurant Ava, under the late Randall Copeland (Box named him his most influential teacher), Bolsa (under Jeff Harris), Café Momentum (under Chad Houser), and Fearing’s at The Ritz Carlton. That augurs auspiciously well for the food being served.
The Cedars Social recently teased the new menu, which features comfort food cooked with a mature grasp of the subtle facets of flavor that each ingredient can bring to a dish. Thus, pumpkin asadero taquitos come slathered with a chimichurri sauce that offsets the sweetness of the pumpkin filling with tartness and herbal notes. A sweet potato side to fried chicken is topped with a molasses and ginger. Cocktails will be the beverage of choice, but a wine tasting would pair well with the flavors in the food.
There is inspiration as well. An hors d'oeuvre, inauspiciously called Grains and Greens, is described on the menu as baby kale, red wheat berry, chicken chicharrones, peppers, cranberry, and orange sherry vinaigrette. That matter-of-fact ingredient list does about 1 percent justice to the delicious spread that commits the ultimate deceit on the taste buds by jumbling pork fat in the pairing.
Ribeye is a no-surprises dish (you have to have a steak on the menu in Dallas to get your Certificate of Occupancy) but is gussied up with a turnip-potato salad and topped with whole caramelized cipollini onions. Pork schnitzel comes in the full traditional presentation — with spätzle, red cabbage, and a house-made mustard. Box is also making his own sausage in house.
Cocktails, under Tom Cavazos, are solid. We tried a Peat and Peaches, combining Laphroaig and peach syrup; a Cynar-based Ten Minutes ‘Til Midnight; and Green Eggs and Hami with gin, Chartreuse, and hami melon, of course. Craft beers, including local ones, are well-represented.
Visitors staying at The Dallas Omni, NYLO, or Aloft will certainly find The Cedars Social enjoyable.